Matty Jones Keen to Experiment with Cymru U21 Squad in Pinatar

Cymru U21 head coach Matty Jones will use the March international window to put building blocks together for his side’s upcoming qualifying campaign.

Jones’ squad have travelled to Pinatar this week for a nine-day camp which will see them take on Scotland on Sunday 26 March.

The camp in south-east Spain will provide Jones with an opportunity to see more faces, with less than three months to go until Cymru begin their UEFA European Under-21 qualifying campaign with a trip to Denmark.

“There’s been an opportunity for change, so we’ve given opportunities to younger players who we need to cast eyes on and others who haven’t been in our environment for quite some time,” explained Jones.

“That allows me to experiment slightly but also create a healthy, competitive environment amongst the players so they’re chomping at the bit to represent their country.

“We’ve put the foundation in place so I’m hoping to build on that in Spain in terms of what our identity is as young players.

“The game itself provides us with a good challenge against a Scotland team who are experienced, so we’re hoping to put together a game plan which will give us success and a good outcome on the day. But ultimately it’s about the performance and the integration of some of the younger lads by giving them opportunities.

“I see it as a camp where we will still be experimenting and observing behaviours on and off the pitch, which will allow us to make our selection easier come the campaign starting in June.”

The January transfer window was a busy period for some members of Jones’ squad, with players securing loan moves in a bid to secure first-team football for the first time in their professional careers.

Jones has travelled around the country closely monitoring the players and has been delighted with their progress since they were last together for the trip to Austria in the September window.

“It feels like I’ve been on that journey with them because of the conversations I have with the players on a daily basis about the struggles they’ve had when they didn’t feel it was going to happen. January was really positive for a number of our players because it’s given them an opportunity to go into clubs and find a way to senior football. 

“Some have done it with ease, some have done it quicker than others and it’s taken others four or five games to get in. It’s all about the impression they make on a daily basis in front of their senior manager and getting the respect from the senior players in the changing room.”

Jones has been able to call upon Rubin Colwill – a member of Cymru’s squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup – and Ollie Denham, who has previously been called up to the senior squad, for the trip to Spain.

And he hopes the duo’s experience of being in the senior team environment can rub off on other players in his squad before the new campaign gets under way.

“We’ve got the luxury of having them both and I think they’re both going to be crucial to our success going forward as well,” he added.

“They’ll both bring the experiences that they’ve had to the camp. They’re going to be seen as role models and everything they do both on and off the pitch will be looked at by players of their own age and the younger generation, so there’s a level of expectation on them.

“I’ve put extra pressure on them to make sure they drive standards, using what they’ve experienced with the seniors and what they do on a daily basis with in their first-team environments. We want to support them as best within our tactical game plan, but also give them an opportunity to flourish with their individual brilliance.”

The match against Scotland will be the first international match streamed on the Football Association of Wales’ recently-launched streaming platform RedWall+.

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